Application Instructions

Application Requirements

For a complete checklist of the steps involved in the CSIET Certification Process, see the Certification Checklist.

Organizations applying for CSIET Certification must complete the online Application for Certification (available in November).

Any outstanding management letter (in response to reported deficiencies/advisories from the prior evaluation cycle) must be submitted to CSIET via the online application. We recommend having these documents ready to upload prior to starting the online application. There are three separate certification categories:

  •  J-1 Inbound Programs
  •  F-1 Inbound Programs 
  • Long-term Outbound Programs

Applying organizations must submit AUP (Agreed Upon Procedures) report(s) (does not apply to J-1 organizations—see page three for J-1 Requirements). These reports must be produced by an independent certified public accountant (CPA must have a valid, up-to-date license number) for each program submitted for evaluation.  Accountants should use the appropriate CSIET AUP Report Template(s). Should there be questions regarding the type of template to be used, please contact CSIET staff at (703) 739-9050. If the State Department or an agency of the U.S. government has given the organization an exemption that may affect compliance with CSIET Standards, the organization must submit a written presentation of this waiver to CSIET.

Important Dates*

  • States Served and Countries Served Forms available for submission to CSIET        January 1
  • Application, application fee, and financial statement/report due to CSIET                          January 15
  • States Served and Countries Served Forms due to CSIET                                                     January 31
  • AUP Report(s) due to CSIET (does not apply to J-1 organizations                                      February 28

Overview of the Certification Process

The CSIET audit review process incorporates the “step-ladder” approach to Full Certification and provides clear criteria that must be met. The intent of this system is to conduct a fair and transparent certification process. The latest audit templates for F-1, and Outbound programs, along with audit grids (and likely sources) are posted on our website. Included in the information provided to programs/auditors is a document called the “Agreed Upon Procedures” report. These procedures were designed to assure that the programs being audited have followed agreed-upon methods for evaluating programs.

Certification Process

Programs must meet each of the following criteria to avoid being issued one or more advisories. Advisories serve as a precursor to a potential Conditional Certification in the subsequent cycle, and are not available for public review. Programs that were issued advisories in the previous cycle must provide a management response as part of the application package in order to be considered for Full-Certification.

J-1 Requirements:

  1. Programs must be paid CSIET Members;
  2. Programs must complete the appropriate Application for Certification and pay the associated application fees;
  3. Programs must be bona fide Department of State designees, but cannot be a school/school district so designated by the Department of State;
  4.  Programs must inform CSIET if they:
    1. cease operation;
    2. merge with or become acquired by another organization;
    3. have/received sanctions by the U.S. Department of State (including but not limited to letter of reprimand, probation, suspension, and/or forms reduction).
  5. Programs that have received a greater sanction (suspension of program, loss of designation, a reduction of more than 15% of forms) by the Department of State in the year since the previous certification will be subject to further review by the CSIET Accreditation Committee;
  6. Programs that have outstanding/pending/unresolved complaints with CSIET will be subject to further review by the CSIET Accreditation Committee;
  7. Programs must reaffirm their commitment to CSIET Standards every year and comply with CSIET Standards and Department of State regulations;
  8. Programs that did not meet one or more of the requirements in the previous cycle must submit a management response addressing each deficiency and any corrective action taken to remedy that issue in order to receive a Full Certification;
  9. Programs that received a Conditional Certification in the previous cycle must meet all requirements in the current cycle to receive a Full Certification. If a program with a previous cycle Conditional Certification does not meet the requirements in the current cycle, they will be excluded from the Advisory List. Any program that has not submitted a management response that meets the review of the Accreditation Committee will be subject to further review and may be excluded from the Advisory List.

F-1 and Long-term Outbound Requirements:

Requirement A: Programs must score an overall average minimum of 85% or better for all audit questions.

AND

Requirement B (for F-1 programs only): Programs must score an 85% or better on each of the following critical program issues:

  • Student Screening/Safety: Items #7, #8, #23b
  • High School Enrollment/I-20 Forms: Items #17, #18
  • Host Family Screening – CBCs, orientation, interviews, accommodations, etc.: Items #10, #11,#12, #13, #14, #15, #16
  • Athletic Eligibility: Item #24
  • Monthly Contact: Item #5
  • Staff/Volunteer Screening, CBC: Item #4

AND

Requirement C: Programs must score a minimum of 75% or above on each individual audit question.

  1. Programs that did not meet one or more of the Requirements in the previous cycle must meet all three in order to receive a Full Certification. For instance, if a program failed to 3 meet Requirement A in the previous cycle, the program must meet Requirements A, B and C in the current cycle in order to receive a Full Certification. If one or more of the requirements are not met, the program will be issued a Conditional Certification.

    Programs that received a Full Certification with no advisories in the previous cycle may receive a Full Certification with advisories
    should Requirements A, B or C not be met in the current cycle.

  2. Programs that received a Conditional Certification in the previous cycle must meet requirements A, B and C
    in the current cycle to receive a Full Certification. If a program with a previous cycle Conditional
    Certification does not meet the three requirements in the current cycle, they will be excluded from the
    Advisory List.

CSIET reserves the option to consider issuing a Conditional Certification, or denying certification when an audit
includes compliance rates considerably below the above-stated criteria or problems so pervasive that there is
evidence of blatant and/or serious disregard of the Standards, which could cause harm to students.

Provisional Certification for New Applicants

Provisional Certification is for new or newly listed programs. Programs applying for Provisional Certification must score a minimum of 85% on each individual audit question. A program must achieve Provisional Certification for two years consecutively before being granted a Full or Conditional Certification. Once a program is granted Full or Conditional Certification, it is evaluated by the general criteria described above.

CSIET Training Policy for New/Provisionally Certified Members

A Provisionally Certified organization (or a new program member) may reduce the 2-year Provisional Certification requirement by one year if its Chief Compliance Officer attends required sessions of the Annual Meeting and Conference. Reduction of the 2-year term is contingent upon demonstrated compliance with CSIET Standards in the current evaluation cycle.

An organization in its second year of Provisional Certification may be conferred Full Certification if its Chief Compliance Officer attends required sessions of the Annual Meeting and Conference. Full Certification is conferred upon conclusion of the Annual Meeting and conference, provided the organization is in good standing with CSIET.

Audit Review (F-1 and Long Term Outbound Programs)

Step 1 – Initial AUP Review and Evaluation

CSIET staff will conduct the initial review and data compilation process to tabulate all audit results and accompanying documents including, but not limited to, complaint correspondence and government-sanction letters to determine which audits fall below the statistical thresholds for Full Certification. Following this review, the staff will have the authority to grant Full or Provisional Certification and issue Advisories.

All recommendations for either Conditional Certification or Denial will be forwarded to the Accreditation Committee for final action.

Step 2 – Accreditation Committee

The Accreditation Committee, comprising five members of the CSIET Board of Directors with the majority representing educational institutions/organizations, will review all staff recommendations for Denial or Conditional Certification to determine certification status. Programs will have the opportunity to submit both written and oral responses for consideration. Committee members will be bound by confidentiality/conflict of interest agreements, and programs will have an opportunity to request that a specific member not review their audit (once a conflict of interest has been established).

Appeals Process

Any program that is recommended for a Conditional Certification or Denial is likely to want to appeal this outcome. Therefore, CSIET has established the following due process procedure to ensure that all stakeholders in the certification process are fairly treated.

J-1 Programs:

Step 1 – Accreditation Committee
A program recommended for less than Full Certification can appeal the decision to the Accreditation Committee. Examples of issues that may justify the Conditional Certification or decertification to be overturned include:

  • CSIET’s interpretation of supplementary materials that may not accurately represent program quality or
    compliance.
  • Evidence that the program’s failure to meet Certification Requirements is not indicative of significant
    operational, compliance or safety standards. Factors taken into consideration in such an appeal would
    include:
    1.  Is the area of compliance in direct control of the program? (For instance, distribution of flight letters by the Foreign Partner versus distribution of orientation material to host families.)
    2. Does deficiency in the area of compliance affect student well-being or safety? (For instance, background check screening versus collection of double placement paperwork)
    3. Does the deficiency in the area of compliance reflect an aberration in the program’s operations? For instance, does the program have a historic pattern of failing to conduct host family orientations or is it a problem relating to one particular year and is there data that substantiates that claim.

*Note: Should the Accreditation Committee require additional documentation/materials to demonstrate compliance, CSIET will issue a written request for such documentation. Programs must furnish the required documentation within five business days of the date of request.

Step 2 – Due Process Review Committee

If the Program maintains that the Accreditation Committee did not follow the above criteria in making a certification decision, they can present their case to the Due Process Review Committee. This committee, comprising five persons, shall be chosen annually by the Board of Directors from among its members. At least two persons shall represent travel and exchange programs and two shall represent the education community. No member of the Due Process Review Committee shall have been a member of the Accreditation Committee in the same evaluation cycle.

The Due Process Review Committee shall conduct appeals, made upon written petition by the appealing organization, of the decisions made by the Accreditation Committee, and grant a hearing to the appealing organization at which both written and oral presentations may be offered by the appealing organization. If the Due Process Committee concludes that there has been a due process violation, then it will reverse the decision of the Accreditation Committee and grant the applicant Full Certification, with the understanding that the applicant’s
application will then be reviewed with greater scrutiny during the next evaluation process.

F-1 and Long-term Outbound Programs:

Step 1 – Accreditation Committee

A program recommended for less than Full Certification can appeal the decision to the Accreditation Committee.Examples of issues that may justify the Conditional Certification or decertification to be overturned include:

  • An auditor’s misinterpretation of the template or supplementary material that produces audit results that may not accurately represent program quality or compliance.
  • Evidence that the program’s failure to meet Certification Requirements is not indicative of significant operational, compliance or safety standards. Factors taken into consideration in such an appeal would include:
    1. Is the area of compliance in direct control of the program? (For instance, distribution of flight letters by the Foreign Partner versus distribution of orientation material to host families.)
    2. Does deficiency in the area of compliance affect student well-being or safety? (For instance, background check screening versus collection of double placement paperwork)
    3. Does the deficiency in the area of compliance reflect an aberration in the program’s operations? For instance, does the program have a historic pattern of failing to conduct host family orientations or is it a problem relating to one particular year and is there data that substantiates that claim.

*Note: Should the Accreditation Committee require additional documentation/materials to demonstrate compliance, CSIET will issue a written request for such documentation. Programs must furnish the required documentation within five business days of the date of request.

Step 2 – Due Process Review Committee

If the Program maintains that the Accreditation Committee did not follow the above criteria in making a certification decision, they can present their case to the Due Process Review Committee. This committee, comprising five persons, shall be chosen annually by the Board of Directors from among its members. At least two persons shall represent travel and exchange programs and two shall represent the education community. No member of the Due Process Review Committee shall have been a member of the Accreditation Committee in the same evaluation cycle.

The Due Process Review Committee shall conduct appeals, made upon written petition by the appealing organization, of the decisions made by the Accreditation Committee, and grant a hearing to the appealing organization at which both written and oral presentations may be  offered by the appealing organization. If the Due Process Committee concludes that there has been a due process violation, then it will reverse the decision of the Accreditation Committee and grant the applicant Full Certification, with the understanding that the applicant’s
application will then be reviewed with greater scrutiny during the next evaluation process.

Conflict of Interest

All CSIET Committee members are required to sign a Conflict of Interest and Confidentiality Form. Additionally, Committee members are asked to excuse themselves from the review or discussion of any exchange program with which they have a conflict of interest. Applying international youth exchange programs may request that a particular Committee member be excused from the reading of their application if they believe a conflict of interest exists. These requests must be sent to the CSIET Executive Director and specifically state the reason for the request. All requests must be submitted two weeks prior to the start of the meeting in question. Committee rosters for the Accreditation and Due Process Review Committees will be posted on the CSIET website well in advance of each meeting.

Thank you for your participation. Please direct any questions to the CSIET office (703-739-9050).